The Problem
In January 2016, more than two years after its founding, FiscalNote was struggling to find its voice and vision for its brand. Across old press releases, various iterations of the corporate website, and company profiles on social media channels, the message was mixed:

“FiscalNote, provider of a real-time legislative and regulatory tracking, analytics and workflow platform” (press release circa Dec 2015)
“FiscalNote provides a real-time legal analytics platform that is revolutionizing the way policy and legal professionals work.” (press release circa Oct 2015)
“FiscalNote, provider of a real-time legal analytics platform that tracks, analyzes and forecasts legal and policy data.” (press release circa Sept 2015)
“FiscalNote, provider of the industry’s first legislative and regulatory intelligence solutions that track, analyze and forecast legal data” (press release circa July 2015)
“FiscalNote combines real-time, predictive insight with specialized workflow tools for government affairs professionals working across fifty states, D.C., and Congress.” (App Store)
“Data-driven insights from political, legal, and regulatory information using cutting-edge artificial intelligence and beautiful design. Our vision is to make FiscalNote mission-critical to every office and organization, and foster a transparent political and legal system in the process.” (LinkedIn)
“We provide data-driven insights from legislative and regulatory information” (Twitter)
“Data-driven insights from political, legal, and regulatory information. FiscalNote’s mission is to unlock government data and make it useful. We use cutting-edge technology and a beautiful interface to create products that help enterprises, non-profits, and organizations connect to the data and analytics they need.” (Facebook)
“FiscalNote makes it easy for organizations to track and analyze complex US legislative and regulatory processes with software. Beautifully designed, these products support cross-team collaboration, helping organizations make better decisions to manage government risk.” (Glassdoor)
“Unlocking open data and making it useful.” (AngelList)

Business and Design Goals
Crafting a Brand Statement and Core Brand Promise: 
Our goal with the rebranding was to create a brand statement, a core brand promise, and a brand personality for FiscalNote as a company: clear, concise language that could be used in corporate communications materials like press releases. Additionally, we wanted to deliver a brand statement and promise for FiscalNote as a platform: language that could be used in sales and product marketing materials. Finally, we needed a message for FiscalNote as an employer: language that could be used in hiring channels.

Distilling the Brand into a Brand Book and Core Cards:
After deciding on the vision and voice for the future of the brand, we needed to distill it into a toolkit to align current employees and help onboard future employees. Tactically, the deliverable would be a five page brand book and a pocket-sized core card to guide the visual and verbal overhaul of our current brand delivery and to ensure that future brand touch points were consistent with the brand. Most importantly: we needed to finalize it within a few weeks.

My design process for creating our brand book and core card involved: conducting user research and building understanding, synthesizing findings, drafting the brand statement, getting user feedback on the prototype of the core card, iterating and changing the brand statement (copy and design) based on feedback, and building the final brand book and core card. 

Conducting User Research and Building Understanding
I worked with our CEO to create a survey that would be sent to employees. We asked employees the following questions:
What department do you work in?
What does FiscalNote (as a company) do?
What is the story of FiscalNote?
Share 5 adjectives or words that best describe your company.
Who are your 3 main competitors (direct or indirect)?
What about FiscalNote sets it apart from its competitors?
Some people haven’t heard of FiscalNote. Who should?
What does FiscalNote (as a product) do?
What problem does FiscalNote (as a product) solve for customers and how?
Share 5 adjectives or words that best describe who would use FiscalNote (as a product).
Why did you choose to work at FiscalNote?
Share 5 adjectives or words that best describe what it’s like to work at FiscalNote.
Are there any songs, movies, TV shows, colors, or characters you think of when comparing to FiscalNote?
What company most resembles FiscalNote’s feeling and brand?

Synthesizing Findings
After receiving 53 responses across 7 departments, I sat down with two of our cofounders: our CEO and CSO. We printed out almost 18 pages of survey results and encoded them: yellow for words or phrases that fit the brand we wanted to build, and orange for those that did not. We then wrote the words or phrases that fit with our brand that stood out the most often on post-its, and grouped them by theme for each level (company, product, employer) that we needed to craft a brand statement for.

Drafting the Brand Statement
Our brand statement needed to answer the following questions: Why does the company exist? If you met FiscalNote at a party, what would it be like? How does it benefit customers? Why work there?

Here’s a look at our first draft:
Brand Statement: FiscalNote is on a mission to build the world’s most powerful platform to analyze government risk. Every day, we invent the future of law and make government data accessible and actionable for organizations around the world.
Brand Promise: FiscalNote helps you eliminate government risk.
Brand Personality: Elite, Ambitious, Young.
Product Brand Statement: For organizations in heavily regulated industries, FiscalNote is the platform for anticipating and collaborating to mitigate government risk. Companies trust FiscalNote to make better decisions because if its cutting-edge technology, its emphasis on design, and its focus on customers.
Talent Brand Statement: We are a group of relentless and ambitious achievers who are driven by collaborative and challenging work in a fast-faced environment.

Gathering User Feedback
Although the words we used were grounded in employee feedback, we wanted to make sure the message, when stitched together, resonated with employees. I selected six employees (Mike S, Gerald, Palmer, Marshall, Vanessa, and Mike M) from different departments and with varying tenures at the company to write their notes on a post-it attached to a printed proof of the core card to offer feedback. Additionally, a near final draft of the brand book and core card was presented at the company all-hands off-site.

One employee felt that a two-sided card wouldn’t be as useful as a one-sided card in a larger format, because he would want to hang it up on the wall next to his desk. Another employee felt that “elite” sounded like bragging and “young” made us sound risky. And others felt that certain sentences or phrases could be stronger or improved to clarify that having the power to take control and strategize would empower our users to turn government risk into opportunity.

Building the Final Brand Book and Core Card
When we finalized the language for our brand book and core card, we chose the language that reflected our beliefs and promises to our clients.
Check out the FiscalNote Brand Book

In doing so, we also chose the language that reflected our beliefs and promises to our employees.
We Believe …
We believe it’s time to stop clicking refresh and updating spreadsheets to understand if a law might change.
We believe people thrive when they have the power to take control of the risk that policy can pose to their organization and see government changes as an opportunity to grow their impact.
We’re here every day because we are on a mission to make government information accessible and actionable.
Website design by Mandy Shen